Offbeat Columns 61 - 70
Imagine taking an original picture of Marilyn Monroe, making a Photostat
of it, then Photostatting the copy and repeating the process twenty
or thirty times. What would someone look like who used the final image
to reproduce Marilyn Monroe’s image?
The pitfalls of my identity • reading, writing &
beer: the things I am really good at • the attractions of old
age • my scary shorts • modernism &
why you need to be able to do good anatomical sketches •
postmodernism, scissors & glue •
Picasso & plastic surgeons • Tupac Shakur in Sudan •
Marilyn Monroe in error
Nowadays we get the e-mails about the dying kids who want postcards
to fulfill their last, sad wishes, vicious viruses that will cause your
computer to explode and free boxes of champagne or wads of freshly minted
dollars, just by sending an e-mail onwards to thirty people within ten
minutes of receiving it.
Passion on Lover's Lane • the rude interruption •
how I know it is true • postcards for dying kids •
warnings & free stuff by e-mail •
the elements of urban legends •
the secret river • hidden truths in urban legends • why
I keep the pavement clean
Even a bath can be made into a productive exercise if it involves a
bit of professional reading or some mental construct that needs to be
thought through. And if I pluck a few weeds in the garden or do the
dishes instead of loafing perhaps I am saving time somewhere, somehow.
Cluelessness • a strange week • my early career
• my first five novels • advertising &
deadline fetishism •
the power of nervous tension •
the seductive allure of goofing off • a motto from a promotional
clock • Wopko Jensma, my favourite South African poet
It is not easy to lug a dictionary around, it will earn you curious
stares and that sort of lexicographical questioning does not get you
invited back to business meetings, dates or dinners.
Jim Morrison, man of letters • 'your humble servant'
• 'kind regards' • three dollar coins •
acrobatic words •
idiot sophisticates • instant reasoning for philosophers
• lexicographical niceties • finely constructed insults
• banal platitudes
• the globalisation of words
Insecurity and paranoia have become the control mechanisms of our time.
New York post-punk band Radio 4 accurately describes the current global
emotional tenor in their song. ‘State of Alert’: “Hear
the sirens. Everything has suddenly changed. Can’t feel normal.
Everyone is looking so strange.”
My neighbour's paranoia • axe wielding maniacs •
fun with irony • Fate, the Calvinist •
a post-punk song hits a nail on the head •
Swedish 'performance enhancers' and fire extinguishers • insecurity
& balding middle-aged men • personal demons & their legal
representatives • the moral of the story: your fears will find you
People who live in the past say, “In our days, we didn’t
do that sort of thing.” What makes them think that sort of thing
was ‘ours’ in the first place. They seem to get a kick out
of correcting people and the ersatz self-righteousness of moral approbation.
Sheep & goats • labour movements for livestock
• us & them • Americans & everyone else
• improbable probability •
people who live in the past • nostalgia expressed as a function
of the morning after • the productivity of forward-looking people
• the perils of ignoring a nasty mess on the kitchen
The person who manages to synthesize alcohol that doesn’t cause
hangovers will be valued beyond measure. The person who invents a process
to effectively replace the liver will probably be runner up.
Interesting facts about the number 67 • apples vs.
caffeine • fish scales in lipstick • Asiatic trivia freaks
• knowledge as currency •
new job categories for the poor • knowledge-based careers with
status • intellectual evolution and economics • prepare for the future with Trivial pursuit
Some people have florid motivational tracts, with kitsch covers featuring
beaches and sunsets, to help them through life. I have adopted Sun Tzu’s
‘Art of War’.
Manliness & stupidity • the veneer of civilisation
• the similarity between the rugby field & the adolescent
nightclub • strategies for frightening the hell out of aggressors
• the strategy of disdain •
the beauty of Sun Tzu • preparation beats fighting • the
mathematical aspect of bravery • pathetic appreciation of bravery
Passion is a recipe for disaster and disappointment. In fact, the advice
of ‘flat-earthers’ and other religious conservatives on
the sense of excitement is probably right: if you experience a moment
of passion, go and take a very cold shower.
Filing fetishists • passion as the basis for recruitment • Love, the false friend • time as a basis for
disappointment • love of your fellow man can
lead to bullets and whips •
the 'flat earthers' are right • goldfish fanciers • the
rationalisation of nightmares before you have them • the vital importance of cups of tea and very cold
I have problems understanding drama in fast forward, so I don’t
watch much. Anyway, I am not a huge fan, with the exception of Sophia
Coppola who probably only gets away with bringing wonderful, original,
though-provoking scripts to the screen due to the fact that her father’s
first names are Frances Ford.
Why video is better than DVD • movies in fast forward
• I watch 'The House of Wax' • slowing down
for architecture • Geiger imagery •
Damien Hirst with giggles • wax as a substitute for plastic surgery
• Paris Hilton gets killed • a bit about story telling